Jeffery Nash, founder of the Juppy Baby Walker, explains how he risked it all to become a successful entrepreneur.
Who: Jeffrey Nash, 64
Where: Las Vegas
What: Inventor, Juppy Baby Walker
How did you get the idea?
JN: In 2008, I attended my grandchild’s soccer practice, where I saw a woman bent over, walking her toddler. I thought, There must be an easier and safer way.
What did you do next?
JN: I drew a sketch of what I wanted, and I had a tailor make one. I was selling men’s clothing in Las Vegas. When clients would come into the store with their babies, I would ask them to try out the prototype. I’d ask them what they liked or disliked. We made two more versions before we started selling it. I named it Juppy, which is my son Jeffrey’s nickname.
Who manufactures it?
JN: I couldn’t find a manufacturer here in the States. So I found one in China, which was more cost-effective anyway. Our first production run, in early 2009, was 1,000 units.
Where did you get the start-up money?
JN: I sold my house and used some 401(k) money. A friend and my dad gave me $5,000 each. I needed about $30,000 to set up a website and to manufacture, ship and market the product.
Did you patent the Juppy?
JN: I sold under a patent pending until I received my patent in 2015. It cost about $15,000, and it protects me for another 17 years.
How did you begin to sell it?
JN: I visited baby stores in San Diego and Los Angeles, but I didn’t receive any orders. I realized they were struggling and I needed to focus my efforts on the internet. In Las Vegas, I snuck into a trade show for baby gear and made a deal for 700 of the 1,000 units with BabySteals.com, which is like Groupon. The Juppies sold out in three hours, and I made $12,000. I quit my job.
Where can you buy it?
JN: We sell it on our website and on Amazon.com, as well as the sites of Sears and Walmart. We sell the regular size, which holds up to 35 pounds, for $29.99 and a larger one for $39.99. Setting up to sell a product on the big online retailers’ sites is a bit daunting, but you learn. Usually, we pay them 15% of the retail price.
Who fulfills the orders?
JN: If the big retailers fulfill orders, it can cost as much as 30% of revenues. So my fiancee, Mayra Sotello, and I fulfill about 85% of orders out of my garage. For the balance, we use a company that helps us sell in online markets overseas.
JN: We’ve sold 57,000 units since we started, with gross revenue of $1.6 million. In 2017, we grossed $160,000. I’ve paid back my 401(k).
What’s the Juppy’s potential?
JN: About 4 million babies are born annually in the U.S. If I got 5% of that market at $29.99 per unit, I’m looking at $6 million a year. I feel like I’m three feet from gold.
How long will you keep going?
JN: I’d like to work to about age 70. I’d sell the Juppy before then if I got a good deal. Shark Tank called me in 2015 and wanted me to make a pitch, but I passed when I realized that any Shark would get 20% of my company but would want 80% of the say-so.
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